Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Following on from last weeks article on Valentines traditions, this week I want to talk about the tradition of sending Valentine cards (yours should be in the post by now or it will be too late to let your loved one know they’ve a secret admirer.)

Valentine gifts could be quite expensive so it wasn’t long before thankfully, the Valentine card eventually replaced such expensive gifts.

The Valentine card, like the Christmas card first appeared as a decorated letter and was well known in the 18th Century.

The card, as we know it, is very much a product of the 19th century.

These later cards are well worth collecting.

Made from paper, outlines were printed, but were hand coloured.

They were so popular that finer paper was soon used and ribbon, lace and flowers were included to make beautifully decorative cards.

Designs were often elaborate with opening doors or pull ribbons and pop up decorations.

The Victorian heyday of the Valentine card industry was between 1840 and 1860, but even in the 1880’s an amazing 1.5 million cards were being posted.

The prettiest Valentine cards were those of the Victorians and many were kept and have been protected within family scrapbooks.

For the collector, this is a rewarding area and one which is not at all expensive.

The majority of Victorian valentine cards will cost under £10.

The more intricate the design and the better the card’s condition, the more it will be worth.

The manufacturers name also has a bearing on cost because some makers are better known and more collectible than others: Marcus Ward and Co and Thomas Stevens are two such big names in the Victorian love industry.

I know my lovely wife Gloria always enjoys receiving a card but I’m afraid this year it’s going to be a modern one as we have had no Victorian ones into the centre for quite some time.

So, if you do come across one, perhaps in your loft or between the pages of a scrap book, hang on to it and treasure it, as these sentimental tokens are getting rarer and rarer.